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Tree Information x

Identifier: MWR/G1054
Tree Type: Group
Registered By: Cadwallader, B.G.
Registration Category: Notable tree/s – Local interest
General Notes:

Historical Caccia Birch House
Named after the family who gifted the property, the original house was built in 1895 for Norwegian saw-miller Jacob Nannestad and his family. The Scandinavian influence is evident in architect Ludolf Georg West’s design. The property once stood on over 20 acres and incorporated the Hokowhitu Lagoon which is now owned by Palmerston North City Council.
In 1903, John Henderson Pollok Strang purchased the property and called it “Woodhey”. Strang was an affluent Englishman who had developed substantial business interests in Manawatu after his arrival in New Zealand. The family made major additions to the house to accommodate staff and add to the living area. On part of the property situated on the opposite side of the lagoon, they established a polo ground and John Strang and his brothers became leading members of the Manawatu Polo Club. He built the stables in 1905 for his horses.
“Woodhey” was leased to the Crown in 1908 for the Governor Lord Plunket and his family. During this time the Strangs' holidayed in England returning to the house in 1910. In 1921 the house was sold to William and Maud Caccia Birch, who were retiring from farming in the Taihape and Marton districts. Mr. and Mrs. Caccia Birch resided at “Woodhey” until William’s death in 1936. Subsequently, Maud (nee Keiller) built a new home in Marton. When she was unable to find a buyer for “Woodhey” the family gifted the property to the Crown to be used in the war effort and it subsequently had a variety of uses.
In 1940 the army used the house as accommodation barracks for Home Guard Officers who were training at Massey. After the war finished, a veteran nurses’ convalescent home was established by the Palmerston North Hospital Board and it remained in use until 1959. In 1960, Victoria University set up offices and lecture rooms for tertiary education outpost in Palmerston North. This was amalgamated with Massey Agricultural College in 1964 to become Massey University.
The property continued to be used by the university and later by the Palmerston North Teachers’ College until the early 1970s. The house had become run down, in severe disrepair and was derelict by the mid ’70s. After a lot of lobbying and fundraising the property eventually came into Palmerston North City Council’s ownership in 1983. In 1991 the restoration began.
The majority of the work was spread over four years and continues to a lesser degree on an ongoing basis. The PNCC set up a Trust Board with a deed that ensures the property is well preserved, maintained and available for use by the whole community. The business was set up in 1993 and has established a successful niche in the conference venue and weddings sector.
The Garden
It is typically 'New Zealand' and also features a large number of old and protected exotic trees such as a magnificent tulip tree MWR/1053, Himalayan cedar and elms. A paved, sunken rose garden overlooks the picturesque Hokowhitu Lagoon – once an elbow of the Manawatu River. A 100 year old wisteria flowers in October and the 15 year old magnolias are at their best in September. Many native shrubs were planted 16 years ago by the Manawatu Tree trust when the property was undergoing restoration and repair (notes supplied by Caccia Birch House, 2012).
Other references:
Caccia Birch House Website
Click here to go to Wikipedia
Historic Places Trust Register Number 196

Group Details

Group Type: Mixed species
Feature Tree Genus: Liriodendron
Feature Tree Species: tulipifera
Feature Tree Common Names: tulip tree,
Additional Feature Tree Genus: Cedrus
Additional Feature Tree Common names: deodar, deodar cedar, Himalayan cedar
Additional Feature Tree Species: deodara
QE II Covenanted: No
NZ Indigenous Bush type: Default Value
Actual Planting Date: actual date not specified
Approx. Planting Date: c1900
e.g. circa. 1860
Current Age: 124 years
Tree Health Description: (none)
Local Protection Status: Yes
Tree Present: Yes
Number of Trees: 50
Area Covered: 1.2 ha
Group of Tree Type: Amenity Planting


Date Observer Action
17 Dec 2012 Cadwallader, B.G.


Lat/Long: -40.366443768193776 / 175.62870740890503
Location Name: Caccia Birch House
Address: 130 Te Awe Awe Street
Suburb: Hokowhitu
City/Town: Palmerston North
Region: Manawatu
Location Description: Access by appointment only. A 10 minute drive from the airport and near central Palmerston North.
Public Accessibility: Commercial
Local Authority: Manawatu District Council


Preview Credit Date
Caccia Birch House Collection 18 May 2006
Caccia Birch House Collection 26 Apr 2006
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